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Concluding BRIDGE conference

25-26/05/2012  |  EU
On 25-26 May 2012 the concluding conference of the BRIDGE project took place in the premises of the HOTEL CITY, Maribor, Slovenia. The concluding conference addressed new challenges of the EU policy towards eastern neighbourhood in the context of the EU cooperation with Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. On the conference were present participants from all four partner countries and the EU; altogether there were 36 participants, 16 of them were from partner countries and 20 came from the EU. Among participants were experts, university lecturers, practitioners, representatives of NGOs and undergraduate and postgraduate students from University of Maribor, Slovenia. The conference was attended also by two distinguished guests, namely Ambassador Mitja Štrukelj, Director General of Directorate for International Development, Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and Vice-Rector of the University of Maribor, Slovenia, Prof. Dr. Dejan Škorjanc. In their welcome speeches they underlined great importance and far-reaching impact of the BRIDGE project’s activities both within the EU and in its eastern neighbourhood.

The overarching aim of the concluding conference was to thoroughly analyse, discuss and evaluate the state of affairs in all most relevant fields of cooperation between the EU and respective partner country and to come up with a comprehensive body of significant recommendations to the EU and its member states and to the governments of Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and Russia for further development of cooperation, of course by taking into consideration current political, economic and other circumstances in each of these countries.

Programme of the Conference.

The prefatory presentation given by Professor Devetak, BRIDGE Project Coordinator, highlighted manifold achievements and shortcomings of the so far European Neighbourhood and Eastern Partnership Policies in relation to all four BRIDGE Partner Countries. This critical assessment stimulated intensive and fruitful discussion among participants on certain most complex and urgent issues. In the continuation, four up-to-date and detailed analyses of the cooperation and relations between the EU and each of the BRIDGE Partner Countries were presented. The second session of the concluding conference was dedicated to such topics as democracy, good governance and human rights, including the issues of local democracy, protection of minorities and discrimination in BRIDGE Partner Countries. The third session addressed the state of cooperation between the EU and respective BRIDGE Partner Country in the fields of education, science and culture. The fourth session of the conference considered the role of human factor in the development of the EU – BRIDGE Partner Countries Cooperation. It shed light on various aspects of people-to-people contacts, cross-border cooperation, migration and visa issues and the role of civil society in the cooperation with the EU. The last session provided an opportunity for presentation and discussion on the most worrying issues and problems of general and more specific nature in relation to the EU – BRIDGE Partner Countries relations and cooperation and resulted in the adoption of the final BRIDGE Recommendations to the EU structure and its member states and to the governmental and civil society entities in BRIDGE partner countries.

The participants of the BRIDGE Concluding Conference agreed that the results and achievements of the BRIDGE project are overwhelming and that this project considerably contributed to further development of the EU – Eastern Neighbouring Countries cooperation in all relevant areas (people-to-people contacts, cross-border cooperation, culture, education and science, strengthening of the civil society position, improved protection of national and religious minorities and better understanding of benefits following the implementation of non-discrimination and diversity). Participants have, in order to improve the cooperation between EU and partner countries, adopted   extensive recommendations to EU and PC authorities.
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